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Widespread groundwater-level offsets caused by the Mw 5.8 Mineral, Virginia, earthquake of 23 August 2011

By
Evelyn A. Roeloffs
Evelyn A. Roeloffs
U.S. Geological Survey, Earthquake Science Center, 1300 SE Cardinal Court, Vancouver, Washington 98683, USA
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David L. Nelms
David L. Nelms
U.S. Geological Survey, Virginia Water Science Center, 1730 East Parham Road, Richmond, Virginia 23228, USA
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Rodney A. Sheets
Rodney A. Sheets
U.S. Geological Survey, Water Science Field Team, 6480 Doubletree Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43212, USA
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Published:
January 01, 2015

Groundwater levels were offset in bedrock observation wells, measured by the U.S. Geological Survey or others, as far as 553 km from the Mw 5.8 Mineral, Virginia (USA), earthquake on 23 August 2011. Water levels dropped as much as 0.47 m in 34 wells and rose as much as 0.15 m in 12 others. In some wells, which are as much as 213 m deep, the water levels recovered from these deviations in hours to days, but in others the water-level offset may have persisted. The groundwater-level offsets occurred in locations where the earthquake was at least weakly felt, and the maximum water-level excursion increased with felt intensity, independent of epicentral distance. Coseismic static strain from the earthquake was too small and localized to have contributed significantly to the groundwater-level offsets. The relation with intensity is consistent with ground motion from seismic waves leading to the water-level offsets. Examination of the hydrographs indicates that short-period ground motion most likely affected the permeability of the bedrock aquifers monitored by the wells.

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Contents

GSA Special Papers

The 2011 Mineral, Virginia, Earthquake, and Its Significance for Seismic Hazards in Eastern North America

J. Wright Horton, Jr.
J. Wright Horton, Jr.
U.S. Geological Survey, MS 926A, 12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston, Virginia 20192, USA
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Martin C. Chapman
Martin C. Chapman
Department of Geosciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 4044 Derring Hall, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061, USA
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Russell A. Green
Russell A. Green
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (MC 0105), 120B Patton Hall, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 750 Drillfield Drive, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061, USA
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The Geological Society of America
Volume
509
ISBN print:
9780813725093
Publication date:
January 01, 2015

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